Tue, 17 Jun 2014
Tedious data gathering

No one talks about the boring bits of the quantified self. Even if I had loads of algos collecting data on my behalf by scraping the web or my devices, I'd still have to check things, approve things, make sense of things.

I think of the LIX as publishing anti-status updates. It appears to show me and others something. But the latest LIX value is more or less unreadable rather than meaningless. The status change it shares is obscure. It's an anti-update, rather than a non-update as it is updated, when I can be bothered.

I've been finishing a book, organising an event, and so there's not so much flanerie these days. That must be why it's down.

Mon, 07 Apr 2014
Neurotic data gathering

When I created the first version of the LIX in 2002, I had the idea that I would update it every week. And so I did, with a few near misses. I saw this weekly commitment to summarising my activities in numerical form as something between a kind of performance art ritual and a moment of personal reflection in the religious tradition I was brought up in.

Over a decade later, things should be easier, surely. Some of the data-gathering could be automated by scraping data off the web (eg the weekly high for the FTSE index) or from my digital life (eg Twitter activity, number of times I exceeded my Nike Fuel target). Some of "my" data is inaccessible as it sits on an organisation's server and protected by security, and they think it's their data, not mine.

But the weekly commitment to updating the LIX is already slipping. Thinking about doing it is like thinking about all the other things I should be doing for my personal or professional betterment, although in this case the benefits are less obvious. I update my personal data here, because I had a habit of doing it a decade ago and the LIX took on a life of its own. Now perhaps I have more of a life of my own and I need this neurotic digital shadow less.

Fri, 28 Feb 2014
Restarting the LIX, 12 years later

In April 2002 the first version of the LIX Index website went live. I updated it faithfully for a year, creating a public performance about my doings, comings and goings, based on data I decided to combine into a representation of my life. The underlying data were never made public - just the one weekly value for the LIX.

Living with the LIX was sometimes surprising (why was it high when I was low?), often boring (weekly updates) and often reflective (from thinking about some of the things that had or had not happened each week). And now here I am doing it again, in a different context in which people do this stuff seriously (the Quantified Self), the internet of things makes distributed data-gathering much easier, and the practice of providing regular updates or tweets or posts is mainstream. I see this rebooting of the LIX as phase 2 of my ongoing social experimentation - seeing if there is a (new) public that might come into being around the LIX, or, after all, it's just me, a few friends and colleagues, and my navel.